Victor Hovland poses with the trophy
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Norway’s Viktor Hovland held off a determined challenge from Xander Schauffele in the final round of the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup title and 18million US dollar (£14.1million) first prize.
Hovland, who won the BMW Championship seven days ago, carded a bogey-free closing 63 at East Lake to finish 27 under par, five shots ahead of Schauffele, who returned a superb 62.
The 25-year-old began the day with a six-shot lead and, following a delay of almost two hours due to the threat of lightning, maintained that advantage as both he and Schauffele covered the first six holes in four under par.
Schauffele also birdied the eighth to be out in 30 and picked up further shots on the 11th and 12th to get within three of the lead, a lead which looked set to shrink even further when Hovland hit a poor chip to the 14th.
However, Hovland holed from 23 feet to save par and then made his first birdie since the sixth on the 16th to effectively seal a win which was quickly celebrated by Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.
“I walked 3 matches with Viktor at the last Ryder Cup,” Donald wrote on Twitter.
“He was great tee to green but his short game and putting let him down. He told me he wasn’t clutch enough. Well he’s about as clutch as they come now. What a year, what a finish, what a guy! Fedex Cup Champ.”
Hovland agreed that his improved short game and response to poor shots have lifted him over the past year.
He said: “I believe in my game and if I hit one bad shot or make one mistake it’s not the end of the world.
“I keep pressing on, I keep making birdies and suddenly we’re back in it again.
“Before, it felt like I have to not give up any shots to shoot a good round of golf. That’s not true anymore.”
US Open champion Wyndham Clark finished third on 16 under with Rory McIlroy, who had been hampered by a back injury all week, carding a closing 65 to finish fourth on 14 under.
“As the week went on it got looser and today it was pretty close to 100 per cent,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
“I wish I had felt like this the rest of the week but even without a bad back I’m not sure I’d have been able to hang with the two guys in front.
“Another solid week, my game is where it needs to be and as long as I stay healthy for the next few weeks I’m excited to get back to Europe, play in Ireland and at Wentworth and ultimately get my game in shape for the Ryder Cup.”
The United States will be bidding to retain the Ryder Cup after enjoying a record 19-9 victory two years ago and McIlroy told reporters: “There’s a lot of us that were in that team at Whistling Straits and that didn’t feel very nice, didn’t feel good.
“So, yeah, I’m excited to get back over to Europe. We’re all sort of making our way over to Europe a couple weeks early. So it will be nice to all get together, get some early team dinners before the week in Rome and sort of really feel like that sort of team chemistry is starting already.
“We’re all, for the most part, playing really good. There’s still a few weeks to go, but it’s the next big thing in all of our calendars.”
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